Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sunset Bungalows in Phnom Penh

Sunset Bungalows in Phnom Penh

Sunset Bungalows in Phnom Penh

120622_09b

The Bungalows on the other side of the Mekong River offer a spectacular view of the sun setting behind Phnom Penh. Photograph: Photo Supplied

Phnom Penh is a hectic, bustling, jostling city, full of smog and smells. For those of us with a full-time job, it can be hard to find breathing space and an opportunity to unwind. That is, unless you’ve already been lucky enough to discover The Bungalows.

Floating next to the banks of the Mekong, guests are ferried to The Bungalows by boat and the 20-minute journey helps those aboard feel like they’re experiencing a proper getaway.

Mid-afternoon onboard one of the sister boats – the Mayfly or the Butterfly – is almost a Merchant Ivory experience. Drinks are served amid genteel surroundings, while parasols, deck chairs and lanterns give a distinctly Edwardian feel as travellers enjoy a novel view of the fast changing city once known as the ‘pearl of Asia’.

Arriving at The Bungalows, visitors relax on a variety of sofas and wicker chairs set out on decks facing the approaching sunset.

There are less than 30 spaces for guests and manager George Norbert-Munns says that he won’t make room for anymore, believing that it’s the chilled-out feel of the place which makes it so special.

“We’re not trying to be flashy”, he says, “We just want a relaxing place for people to unwind”.

The bar menu is simple but satisfying, offering decent red and white wines, cold beers and a small selection of straightforward cocktails. Food-wise, there are only antipasti platters on offer, but the boats are timed to get hungry visitors back in time for dinner. The plates are an unusual combination of components: two good cheeses, crackers, wasabi peas, green olives, a sun- dried tomato tapenade, and a pile of lychees. Overall an appetising accompaniment to several cold drinks.

The simple wooden structures bob slightly on the waters of the Mekong: not enough to induce seasickness, but a gentle dip and nod as the river laps the edges of the bungalows; enough to create a tranquilising seaside holiday sensation.

Over a few hours, drinkers watch the sun set behind the Phnom Penh skyline and gaze at the river as it turns from greenish-brown to inky-black. Along the bank, other floating structures turn on their electricity and send out sparks of light across the water as the city illuminates on the opposite shore.

As if an evening at The Bungalows could get more soothing, they have their own tribe of mongrel puppies – adopted by the security guard and sponsored by Norbert-Munns – who gambol around the decks and are happy to be picked up and cuddled.

At 7pm, the boats return to the pontoon at Titanic pier and guests wander off to continue their evening.

The Bungalows were originally conceived of as a floating hotel, but when the idea didn’t get off the ground, Norbert-Munns proposed to the owner that they could be turned into a bar. A small and prettily furnished room has been kept and can be rented for an overnight stay during the dry season.

The venue can also be hired for functions and celebrations during the week; they’re officially only open on Saturday and Sunday nights.

Whether it’s a location for a party with friends you’re after, or a place to quietly sink a few gins with a spectacular view, The Bungalows are a great getaway without the bus ride.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anna Brown at [email protected]

MOST VIEWED

  • Ministry issues warning over coronavirus outbreak

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday asked the public to be on “high alert” as a new virus wreaks havoc across Asia. However, no cases have been reported in the Kingdom thus far. The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has raised the alarm for its similarity to

  • First case of coronavirus reported in the Kingdom

    Cambodia reported its first case of the deadly 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) on Monday, Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng announced. He said medical specialists detected the virus in a Chinese tourist in Sihanoukville. The minister said Jia Jianhua, 60, travelled from Wuhan city, where the outbreak

  • PM urges precaution amid virus outbreak

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday called on all Cambodians to bump up precautions to avoid contracting the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that has already killed more than 50 people in China. The prime minister told the public to remain calm but alert about the possibility of

  • Gov’t slams NGO over 2019 corruption report

    The government on Thursday slammed a report that described the Kingdom as highly corrupt. Government spokesperson Phay Siphan dismissed the latest Transparency International (TI) report as “just an advertisement of NGOs to promote their own interests”. Released on Thursday, the report puts Cambodia near the

  • Gov’t answers garment buyers’ complaint

    Some of the biggest buyers in the Kingdom’s garment sector have urged Prime Minister Hun Sen to address issues faced by unions and workers – a request a senior official said was out of touch with the situation on the ground. The letter addressed to

  • App to connect farmers to millions

    The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has soft-launched a mobile app that connects farmers with potential buyers and gives them access to critical market information. The ministry’s Agriculture Marketing Office chief Meach Yady said the ‘CamAgriMarket’ app gives farmers a platform to showcase